I released Teardrop Road on June 23, 2021. I think it was a Thursday. It was pretty devastating to put it out in the world on the big stage. Having your secrets on a blog is one thing. The worldwide stage opens up doubts and fears that I expected but could never prepare myself for. However, this release is a win. It’s a win for me. It’s a win for my family. For mental health in general. And I hope if you’re in pain and you’re going through anything, any kind of abuse, any kind of loss, I hope this book can help you and that you can see it as a win. I’m celebrating the release of Teardrop with another blog blast. These are chapters of the second volume of Reality of the Unreal Mind, called Normal Street. I’m releasing a chapter from that book every two hours and fifteen minutes. This is the story of Hollow Man. This is the story of how I figured out love through a series of heartaches and confusing episodes. Because love is not easy to navigate for anyone, and it’s almost impossible for a shattered mind to prepare for their soulmate. Here is Hollow Man 15: Draconic Part 2.
If you are here, then you have been on Teardrop Road. You have read about the horrors of the girl I call Draconic and you know she was almost my death a few times. You know how much she hurt me and how purposefully she did it. I don’t think it is fair to keep talking about her like this though, so let’s talk about the girl. And let’s take one look at her from here. Let’s look at the one true moment we shared and the effect it had on me.
Draconic was named thus because she was monstrous. But she was not to blame. See, she had been born with deformed hand. I won’t go into it. If you know her for even a moment you quickly begin to realize that the flaw, as horrible as it would be to live with, and as shattering as it would be to wear, is not the girl at all.
She is funny, talented, a hard worker, and smart. She is more alive than almost any person, and she does the wildest things. It’s like watching a wisp of smoke fall in love with the air, just watching her move. Like the caress of a scarf, just listening to her talk.
I have never known any person like her, and she is a good person. I watch her from a distance on social media, and she performs the duties of a mother, a wife, and an actress seamlessly. I love this person, and I am glad she is in the world because the art she shares is important. And she deserves happiness.
So much of what she did back then was suspect. Every look a deception. Every movement a puzzle. But she was bare to me the night she met Smear Lord of Ire. It was the only time I can truly say she was not playing me. The one time I knew there were no other boys on her mind. I want to remember her like that. Let’s talk about the wildest night of my high school life. And the most badass third wheel of all time.
So, I had the money to make it happen, but no car. She lived forever away from my house and there was just no way without Tony. But Tony is one of the greatest people you will ever meet. He is loyal to the bone. And he is a hopeless romantic. So, when I asked him if he would chauffeur for us for a date I wanted to take her on, he agreed without question.
The man did not have a back seat. He had an El Camino. A small one. When we picked her up, she climbed on my lap and I was so embarrassed. What kind of impression was I making on this girl, who was clearly too hot for me, too talented, and too sly? She did not complain, but she was very quiet, and we went to the movies to watch A Nightmare Before Christmas.
I told her about a certain part that I wanted her to see and as it came up. I warned her to watch, and instead she turned to look at me. The section of the film shot past and it was gone.
“What did you do? That was the whole reason I brought you to this movie,” I hissed, throwing my hands in the air exasperated. She looked at me wide-mouthed and laughed. She smiled and kissed me real fast. Then she turned back. She took my hand, and that was all I remember. The rest of the movie I sat replaying the kiss.
We got in the car and I asked her if she had to go home. She said no. I asked Tony to take us to the bridge.
When we pulled up, it was winter. It was cold. It was the kind of cold that sits with you. It does not blow around or cut and slice. This kind of cold has nothing to prove. It owns you; you just don’t know it yet. When she stepped out of the car she was trembling. I took off my coat and draped it across her shoulders.
“You’re cold,” she said.
“I’m from Wisconsin. We sleep in snow drifts up there every winter. It is nothing for us to just walk around naked in the ice and snow.”
“Naked, huh?” She pulled my coat back and flashed me her perfectly clothed body. “Like that.”
“Not really,” I said. I took her by the shoulders, pulled her in close. She licked her lips and stared at me.
“Now, don’t look at me,” I said. “I am nothing to look at. Not under these circumstances. Look around you. Look at the majesty of it. There is magic all around you tonight. I am going to show you some.”
She looked at me and cocked her shoulders at me. “Magic Man.”
“None.” She was suddenly very serious. “I have no doubt. Not at all. I know you are magic. I have seen it in your future. In your love and your mind. You are the Magic Man.” She grinned and threw her hair back. She looked up at the sky and purred. “It’s why I am here.”
“Let’s see then, shall we?”
I told her about the werewolf and the hunters. I told her about the last wolf, and she ran a finger across my chin and pulled the neck of my t-shirt down.
“I know all about your werewolf body, Jesse. Tell me more.” She touched my chin and I looked at her and nodded.
“Okay. Well, come this way. Look at these vampires.” I told her about the vampires in the tree lines that had been hunting us all night. They had cornered us here and were pulling their weapons to end our lives. For they knew I was a werewolf and they knew I was turning her into one that night.
“They are here to save me?” she said.
“Well, run them off. I’m not for saving tonight. I am for the biting and the gnashing.”
I put my arms around her as Tony rolled down his window and, with his amazing stereo, played a sweet but harsh Guns N’ Roses song. Let’s take a minute to stand and gawk at the third wheel here tonight. He didn’t play the song Don’t You Cry, he played the alternate lyrics. He played the song that never gets played. And that was the art of it. Had he played the normal version, it wouldn’t be burned into the two of us the way it is. But Tony is the man, and he gave us that little bit of magic.
I took her in my arms, and we slow danced. We said nothing. The moon shone down and the stars seethed around us and all the sky reflected in the darkness of the water, and we found ourselves dancing on a bridge pulled over stars. She was still cold, and I pulled her in tight. I walked to the edge of the bridge and pointed out at the night.
“You asked for him. There he is,” I said, motioning to nothing.
“You wanted the Artist, the immense being. There he is, in the sky. You can’t see him unless you squint. He is massive, black and covered in fur. He hovers with the flapping of his tiger striped butterfly wings, and beside him stretches out a glowing screen flickering and humming. It is light and happy, and twisted beyond comparison, and it is here for you. Here for you to look at. He will remember you now. He has your scent. Come and ask him for stories and he will give them. He is at your command.”
“What do you call him?” she whispered.
“I call him Smear Lord of Ire. He scares the living shit out of me. Horrifies me and protects me. He is my nightmare and my savior. He is the Artist, and he has your scent.”
On the next song, Tony overstepped his flow. He played Bump and Grind by some hyper sexual rhythm and blues singer.
She sighed. “He is doing this on purpose.”
I nodded and pulled her toward the car. “I’ll have him take you home.”
“Please don’t. Let me stay. Don’t put me away yet.”
“You’re not a DJ, Tony,” I said with a chuckle.
“But I could be,” he said back. “Now what?”
I sat in the passenger seat and she threw off her coat and mine. She stuffed them in some nook, and crawled in, straddling me. “I want more Artist,” she said. “Can you get us lost?”
“Done,” Tony said.
We made out for four hours. Tony drove the whole time. He stopped once for gas but never stopped driving and never got in the way. He was the most awesome third wheel there has ever been. And for that one night, he made it possible.
That was our one night. The one time I ever saw her, when I truly believed everything she said, and knew she wanted to be right there with me. There were no games that night. There was no guessing. It was just me and Draconic, and my wing man.